What is bullectomy?

Updated: Oct 23, 2020
  • Author: Neerja Gulati, MD; Chief Editor: Dale K Mueller, MD  more...
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Bullectomy is the surgical removal of a bulla, which is a dilated air space in the lung parenchyma measuring more than 1 cm. [1]  A bulla that occupies more than 30% of the hemithorax is referred to as a giant bulla. The most common cause of a lung bulla is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Other conditions associated with lung bullae are alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Marfan syndromeEhler-Danlos syndrome, cocaine smoking, sarcoidosisHIV infection, and intravenous (IV) drug abuse.

Bullae increase physiologic dead space and compress surrounding normal lung tissue. Giant bullae also exert pressure on the diaphragm and effect its contractility. The natural history of bullae is one of enlargement causing worsening of dyspnea; however, the rate of expansion is unpredictable. The clinical course of a giant bulla can be complicated by a pneumothorax and fluid accumulation within the bulla. [2]

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